February 23rd, 2017 by Derek Markham
The Gila River, one of the last wild rivers in the western US, is under threat from proposals for development and diversion. The Heart of the Gila documentary promises to deliver a compelling visual journey along the Gila, while also educating us about the importance of using good science and hard data to make the best decisions possible about our shared natural resources.
Flowing out of America’s first designated wilderness area, the Gila Wilderness (which was protected by the visionary conservationist Aldo Leopold in 1924), the Gila River is incredibly rich in biological and cultural values, but is now threatened by a proposed diversion project that will almost certainly be a financial and environmental boondoggle.
While the river currently flows free, people have been fighting to keep dams off the Gila River in New Mexico for the past century, yet this latest water grab could remove huge quantities of water from the Gila. The amount of water that could be diverted from the iconic Gila by the proposed diversion project would mean risking the extinction of seven endangered species of fish, birds, and reptiles, while also jeopardizing the sustainability of the river’s bankside cottonwood forests.
The filmmaker of Heart of the Gila, David Garcia of halflife* digital, will be using the latest in cinematic and production technology to film the length of the Gila River using 6K RAW film cameras, beginning at the river’s headwaters in the Gila Wilderness and continuing to Phoenix Arizona, where the last of its water is siphoned off for agriculture.
“In 2015, I was hired to create a film about three young environmentalists who died in an avoidable plane crash while documenting the Gila Wilderness in Southwest New Mexico. A “quick video” became a year-long project (mostly self-funded) producing the film, “A Heart, A Soul, A Voice, The Lives and Legacy of Michael Mahl, Ella Myers and Ella Kirk.” These remarkable teens touched everyone around them in life leaving a legacy of environmental activism and stewardship. Their dedication to protecting the Gila River continues to ripple through their community.” – David Garcia
A combination of aerial drones, specially designed gimbal-equipped watercraft, and water-protected cameras will be used to document the long and winding path that this incredible desert river takes as it nourishes and nurtures the landscape of the southwest. The film will also explore the Gila’s historical trajectory linking it to the Colorado River, and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico, and provide compelling imagery of some of the many species that live in and around the river. This will be the ultimate story of the Gila, filmed to IMAX standards but told in an unconventional way through the eyes of three young “rockstar” environmentalists, who gave their lives in service to the study and protection of the Gila River.
The team has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds necessary to continue filming this important documentary, which will then become an important tool for environmentalists, waterkeepers, and activists seeking to protect the Gila River, a true jewel of the southwest.
[Image: Video capture]
Keep up to date with all the most interesting green news on the planet by subscribing to our (free) Planetsave newsletter.